Documentary filmmaker George C. Stoney, a key figure in the movement to create public access television on cable TV systems, died July 12th in Manhattan, The New York Times reported. He was 96. In addition to making some 50 documentaries, Stoney taught filmmaking at NYU from 1970 until this year. Many of his students became prominent in the film industry. Among his docs were Occupation, about Canadian students who took over a McGill University building in 1970, The Uprising of ’34 (1995), about the legacy of a textile workers strike crushed by factory owners and All My Babies (1953), originally commissioned by the Georgia Department of Public Health to educate midwives in poverty-stricken rural areas. For All My Babies he recruited a midwife named Mary Coley for a series of re-enactments. The movie included a 15-minute sequence of a live birth and became a staple of medical school curricula. In 2002 it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Stoney helped lobby the cable industry and government officials to persuade them to give citizens a share of the cable broadcast spectrum. The public access requirement became part of federal communications law in 1984. Stony saw public access as a way for citizens to “get information to their neighbors” not “to make anybody famous.”
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